Mendip District Council is to launch a district-wide review of its leisure provision in a bid to encourage investment and provide residents with improved facilities and a new range of leisure activities.
At its meeting on Monday (11th March) the council’s Cabinet approved a procurement process in relation to council-owned sports and leisure facilities.
Whilst the council’s current leisure contract with Avalon has been a success, the review is being launched now as the contract will be coming up for renewal in May 2015.
The council’s leisure facilities are extremely popular, with more than 873,000 visits made to them last year. However, the buildings that house Mendip’s sports centres and swimming pools are ageing and new investment is needed to provide top quality facilities for residents.
With continuing pressures on local authority finances, the necessary improvements are not something that can be funded solely by the council.
In view of this, a procurement process is to be launched in an attempt to establish a new partnership with the private sector to develop facilities and improve the district’s leisure offer.
The sites that are contained in the procurement process are: Strode Pool, Shepton Mallet Lido, Wells Leisure and Frome Leisure Centre. Built leisure provision across the district will be considered as part of the process.
Once option appraisals for the sites have been drawn up, users will be fully consulted on the proposals.
Donna Nolan, Corporate Manager for Governance, Assets and Public Spaces, said: “The council’s leisure facilities are very popular with people of all ages across the district and we want to make sure that the people of Mendip have access to high-quality leisure centres and swimming pools.
“While our current facilities are in an acceptable condition, they are ageing and we need to encourage more investment in the buildings.
“This procurement exercise marks the start of a process that could transform the way our leisure facilities look and operate in the years to come.”
Cllr John Parham, Portfolio Holder for Governance, Assets and Public Spaces, said: “Physical activity and sport have a significant role in improving the quality of life for people of all ages, which is why Mendip District Council is committed to providing quality leisure facilities across the district.
“However, the council simply doesn’t have the money that’s needed to bring our facilities up to the standard that we would like.
“This leisure review and procurement exercise would mark the first step towards a new partnership with the private sector, securing much needed investment.”
The council will begin the review through a ‘soft’ market testing exercise, which will see it talking to the private sector to gain insight on how the market might approach delivering leisure services in the district.
The first stage of the procurement project will get under way in April 2013.